Our next generation of virtual guitars and basses will be powered by a custom script & UI we’re calling the S3 Engine. Rather than a simple update to our Shreddage 2 guitars, we’re using all the tools available in Kontakt 5.7 to build an entirely new instrument engine from scratch. In the next few blog posts, we’ll cover some of the key features you can expect with this exciting new technology!
Talk to the Hand
One of the big challenges in programming a virtual guitar is how to translate MIDI notes to a guitar’s fretboard. The same pitch can be played on different frets & strings, so how does the instrument know which one to use? Our approach to this challenge is a “virtual hand” that emulates the position and reach of a guitarist’s hand and fingers as they perform a part.
By improving the way our virtual hand moves, we can avoid unrealistic voicings that send MIDI notes all over the fretboard. Not only do these look wonky on the UI, but the tone is inconsistent, as string and fret selection has a huge impact on tone!
While the virtual hand is by default controlled entirely by S3, it’s possible to automate both string selection and hand (fret) position – something we think power users will appreciate!
Multiple Algorithms = More Power
With S3, we realized that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to fret selection. The logic that works for a screaming solo part does not necessarily work for jazzy accompaniment, or quick strumming. So, we created several fretting algorithms in S3 that will help you find the right type of voicing for your MIDI parts. Together with the ability to set a fret preference range, you can easily change the tone of your performance without doing any automation at all!
For example, with the Moving Lead algorithm and a monophonic lead part, you can achieve some killer-sounding solos with super-realistic solo voicing:
But this same algorithm doesn’t work as well for slow strummed chords.
With S3, you can keep your ‘lead’ instance on the appropriate lead voicing mode, while your rhythm part can use our Polyphonic mode. This algorithm prioritizes realistic voicing of large chords:
The goal of these modes is not only to deliver better-sounding performances, but also to save you time. We’d rather you spent time simply writing and perform MIDI as opposed to painstakingly automating hand position, string, and fret selection. By selecting the right mode for your performance, you’ll get incredible results with 0 hassle.
One of the biggest feature requests from our S2 guitars was a way to more easily perform strummed chord parts without manually sequencing (or playing) every single note. We heard you loud and clear, and we’ve introduced a brand-new Strumming Engine as part of S3.
When Strumming Mode is enabled, you can play notes in the blue (lower) range of the keyboard to set up your chord, then play notes in the red (upper) range of the keyboard to trigger various strums.
But this new engine goes beyond just simple down and up strumming of played chords! Two notes in the strum range are reserved for partial strums of the upper or lower played notes, which is a handy effect for realistic rhythm parts: after all, guitarists don’t always strum every single note of a chord every time they play it. You can also pick single notes from the chord with the second octave, another useful technique used in countless songs.
And much more…
In the next post, we’ll cover our new Console tab which gives you complete control over pickup blending and effects!